La’Tecia Thomas is an Australian-based makeup artist and curvy model, who inspires women through the work that she does in her industry, as well as with her wise words on body positivity.
In a recent Instagram post, Thomas presented side-by-side images of herself to illustrate a personal transformation from 2014 until now. Although judging by the look of the photo the transformation is only physical, the caption provides an in-depth understanding of why the then-and-now photos depict much more than that.
The image on the left is of Thomas looking slimmer and more stereotypically “fit” than the curvy photo of herself on the right. However, the latter is her more recent — and she believes her happier and healthier — self.
“I was going through my phone and I found this old photo of me back when I was training to compete in a bikini competition. So many people will look at this photo and make physical comparisons and say they would prefer me ‘before’,” she wrote in her caption. “I prefer me at any weight as long as I’m happy.”
Thomas goes on to explain the way that she felt about her body in the past. Although people often assume she was happier at her smaller size, she admits to lacking confidence or having any concept of her own self-worth — something she discusses in an in-depth video on her YouTube channel.
Following a side-by-side that she posted to Instagram in March, Thomas created a video to explain her personal journey with body positivity. Immediately, she admitted how difficult the subject would be, yet she persisted in order to share her inspiring story, which began at age 13.
“Certain things that happen in your life shape you and your thoughts of yourself as you get older. There was a certain person in my life who used to put me down, from my household when I was growing up. And I remember this moment when this person was like, “You’re fat, you need to lose weight’,” she said in the video, “and that really stuck with me.”
Thomas explained that the comment led her to what she thought would “turn herself around,” which was an extreme diet and exercise plan. Following a long day at school, Thomas would do an accumulated three-and-a-half-hour workout, while eating essentially nothing. The cycle continued as Thomas got serious with a boyfriend who was driven by fitness goals, and who even collected photos of fit women on his phone. She recalls comments that he would make to her, and the questions he would ask about her going to the gym, which eventually drove her to another extreme.
In 2013, Thomas decided to enter a bikini competition. “The reason why I wanted to compete in this competition was to gain some self-confidence in myself,” she explained. “That, in my mind, was what would make me happy and feel confident in myself.” Now, however, looking back at her training and food diaries, she realises she was striving for the wrong thing.
“When I was training, I know that I was not happy when I looked in the mirror. I can honestly say that when I look in the mirror now, I am happy and I am a confident woman. And that’s got nothing to do with the size that I am. It’s got everything to do with my mindset and how I see myself,” she said.
The model, who now poses in everything from swimsuits to lingerie, emphasizes throughout her content that she does not promote unhealthy living. Instead, she is bringing attention to mental health issues that are just as important as the health of your body. Going to CrossFit multiple times a week and expressing a love for lifting weights and staying in shape, Thomas encourages everyone to be active at a pace that suits you and your mental health.
“It’s OK to love yourself no matter what your size is.”